The great Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post used the Tweets from her legendary father to write this excellent column about Jordan Spieth, 22, whose Green Jacket dreams drowned Sunday afternoon amid the confounding winds of No. 12 at Augusta National. Despite fighting his swing and swinging a new driver, Spieth played 71 damn fine holes. Though most of us will remember only one.
He’s not the first golfer to abandon his game plan when the sledding became rough. Not the first champion to falter either, as Jenkins ably points out. There are others, of course, Norman, Hogan, Watson. Examine an elite pro from any era and you’ll find major championship wreckage nearby.
It’s easy to critique from the couch. Over the years, I caddied roughly 500 rounds on the PGA Tour, including a half-dozen majors. From the comforts of a hotel room at night, with hindsight as a guide, it was clear to see how decisions went awry. Still, on No. 12 Spieth left himself a challenging third shot after dunking his first. A 68-yard pitch off a tight lie to a pin tucked behind water is frightening in any situation. As a caddie, it’s a shot you try to avoid, when say, helping your player lay up on his second shot on a par 5. Even a pro with the sharpest short game can struggle to make clean contact. Spieth admitted it was hardly an ideal yardage. He chunked it, and as many have said in the last day or two, everyone who plays golf can relate. In that situation, re-teeing might have been a better option.
Spieth will replay the shot a hundred more times and make his own analysis. He’s played in three Masters and Bubba Watson and Danny Willett are the only golfers to beat him. It’s a remarkable record by any measure and the painful exit from Magnolia Lane is a road he’s been down before.
He’ll learn from it – and improve.